Author: Alexandra Vlasov

Why thinking of information security makes sense?

Why thinking of information security makes sense?

To fully understand why information security is important, we need to understand both the value of information and the consequences of such information being compromised.

The Value of Information

To understand the value of information, let’s start by examining some typical information held by both businesses and individuals. At the very least, businesses will hold sensitive information on their employees, salary information, financial results, and business plans for the year ahead. They may also hold trade secrets, research and other information that gives them a competitive edge. Individuals usually hold sensitive personal information on their home computers and typically perform online functions such as banking, shopping and social networking; sharing their sensitive information with others over the internet.

As more and more of this information is stored and processed electronically and transmitted across company networks or the internet, the risk of unauthorised access increases and we are presented with growing challenges of how best to protect it.

Protecting Information

When you leave your house for work in the morning, you probably take steps to protect it and the contents from unauthorised access, damage and theft (e.g. turning off the lights, locking the doors and setting the alarm). This same principle can be applied to information – steps must be put in place to protect it. If left unprotected, information can be accessed by anyone. If information should fall into the wrong hands, it can wreck lives, bring down businesses and even be used to commit harm. Quite often, ensuring that information is appropriately protected is both a business and legal requirement. In addition, taking steps to protect your own personal information is a matter of privacy retention and will help prevent identity theft.

Information Breaches

When information is not adequately protected, it may be compromised and this is known as an information or security breach. The consequences of an information breach are severe. For businesses, a breach usually entails huge financial penalties, expensive law suits, loss of reputation and business. For individuals, a breach can lead to identity theft and damage to financial history or credit rating. Recovering from information breaches can take years and the costs are huge.

For example, a well published information breach occurred at the popular clothing company in AUS during 2014-2015, when over 45 million credit/debit cards and nearly 500,000 records containing customer names and driver’s license numbers were compromised. This information is believed to have been compromised due to inadequate protection on their wireless networks, leaving the information exposed. The final costs of the breach are expected to run into the $100’s of millions and possibly over $1 billion.

So, that is why thinking of information security makes sense.

Why being ethical is important in Business Analyst’s role?

Why being ethical is important in Business Analyst’s role?

Ethical people are those who recognize the difference between right and wrong and consistently strive to set an example of good conduct. In a business setting, being ethical means applying principles of honesty and fairness to relationships with coworkers and customers. Ethical individuals make an effort to treat everyone with whom they come in contact as they would want to be treated themselves.

Build Customer Loyalty

Consumers may let a company take advantage of them once, but if they believe they have been treated unfairly, such as by being overcharged, they will not be repeat customers. Having a loyal customer base is one of the keys to long-range business success because serving an existing customer doesn’t involve marketing cost, as does acquiring a new one. A company’s reputation for ethical behavior can help it create a more positive image in the marketplace, which can bring in new customers through word-of-mouth referrals. Conversely, a reputation for unethical dealings hurts the company’s chances to obtain new customers, particularly in this age of social networking when dissatisfied customers can quickly disseminate information about the negative experience they had.

Retain Good Employees

Talented individuals at all levels of an organization want to be compensated fairly for their work and dedication. They want career advancement within the organization to be based on the quality of the work they do and not on favoritism. They want to be part of a company whose management team tells them the truth about what is going on, such as when layoffs or reorganizations are being contemplated. Companies who are fair and open in their dealings with employees have a better chance of retaining the most talented people. Employees who do not believe the compensation methodology is fair are often not as dedicated to their jobs as they could be.

Positive Work Environment

Employees have a responsibility to be ethical from the moment they have their first job interview. They must be honest about their capabilities and experience. Ethical employees are perceived as team players rather than as individuals just out for themselves. They develop positive relationships with coworkers. Their supervisors trust them with confidential information and they are often given more autonomy as a result. Employees who are caught in lies by their supervisors damage their chances of advancement within the organization and may risk being fired. An extreme case of poor ethics is employee theft. In some industries, this can cost the business a significant amount of money, such as restaurants whose employees steal food from the storage locker or freezer.

Avoid Legal Problems

At times, a company’s management may be tempted to cut corners in pursuit of profit, such as not fully complying with environmental regulations or labor laws, ignoring worker safety hazards or using substandard materials in their products. The penalties for being caught can be severe, including legal fees and fines or sanctions by governmental agencies. The resulting negative publicity can cause long-range damage to the company’s reputation that is even more costly than the legal fees or fines. Companies that maintain the highest ethical standards take the time to train every member of the organization about the conduct that is expected of them.

Copyright, law at informational technology business analyst’s role

Copyright, law at informational technology business analyst’s role

With the internet changing the way we create, share and access information, the question is, when it comes to copyright, as a consumer, are you breaking the law? As a creative, are you protected?

After a review of copyright in the context of the digital economy the Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) recommended that Australia introduce ‘fair use’ as a defence to copyright infringement.

Many in the tech and start-up ecosystem find Australia’s current copyright provisions restrictive and inflexible. On the other hand, musicians, film-makers, writers, innovators and other creatives in the digital area have argued strongly for ensuring that IP is protected, perhaps putting the onus on internet services providers to take responsibility for illegal downloads and sharing.

Would a “fair use” provision be an adequate protection for innovators, or is it a vague term which would reduce a creative’s right to decide where and how their content is used?

The issue of copyright is a hot topic, and not a simple one. Beyond the Review: Copyright and the Digital Economy brings together a panel of industry experts who are leading the charge in this field to debate the future of copyright in Australia.

As creative practitioners, our “rights literacy” can often be pretty limited, so we’ve asked some of the key players in the sector to bust some common copyright myths.

  1. If I change more than 10% of the words (or image) am I infringing copyright?

Most probably!  There’s no magic number of words/images/changes you can make to something that will stop it being a breach of copyright.  Copyright doesn’t protect just identical copy, it also protects copying of a part of a work (anything more than an ‘insubstantial’ part) or making an adaptation.  Adaptions such as translation or screen plays that might change all the word in a work would still be a breach of copyright if done without permission.

  1. Is it okay to move my legally purchased content around my own personal devices?

That depends on exactly what you want to move. Because the laws around personal format shifting are technology specific, you can copy a legally-acquired videotape to your tablet, but you can’t do the same for a DVD.  The Australian Copyright Council (ACC) has a useful sheet setting out what you can and can’t legally do titled “Copying and Converting Formats for Private Use”.

  1. With so many regulations, who is monitoring these and does anybody actually get sued for infringement?

There’s been an increase in the ability to monitor copyright infringement, especially with the increasing use of digital content.  Some sites (think YouTube) automatically check uploads for copyright content.  People found to be infringing copyright may be asked to stop using the content, be asked for compensation or may,at the extreme, end up in court.  However, realistically, most of us breach copyright several times a day without even noticing it, and most of these very minor infringements (unauthorised doodles, forwarding emails etc) slip under the radar.  That doesn’t make them legal however.

  1. Can I use pictures found from Google image searches without worrying about getting permission?

Only if they are openly licenced (for example Creative Commons licenced) or public domain (no copyright) images.  You can choose to search certain types of licenced images in the advanced search option, or there are several sites that specialise in only open licenced or public domain images.    If you can’t see any licencing information, then it is wise to assume that it is ‘all rights reserved’.

  1. Do I need to register my copyright in order to protect it?

No, copyright automatically exists as soon as you create the work.  There are some circumstances where the copyright in something you create will not belong to you – for example works you make as an employee doing your job normally belong to the employer.  It is always a good idea to put some indication of how you want your copyright to be observed, so the © symbol for ‘all rights reserved’ or an open licence if you’d like others to share your work.

  1. What are these reforms and how will they impact me?

The ALRC made several recommendations to update copyright. The headline recommendation is a flexible ‘fair use’ exception, which would allow people to make some uses of copyright material without permission if the use was fair.  Examples where uses might be fair would be copying a DVD you own to your tablet to watch while travelling or an artist making a mash-up work from TV advertisements.  For each use though you have to consider what is being done, what sort of work is being used, how much is being used and most importantly whether it has a negative effect on the copyright holder.  Fair use is the system that exists in the USA.  By focusing on whether a use is fair (as opposed to the purpose of a use as the current exceptions do) it can adapt to changes in technology and markets.

The ALRC also made some more technical recommendations about reform of the statutory licences (education, government and disabilities) library and archive use and some government uses, as well as making some suggestions on broadcasts and re transmissions for the government to consider at a later date.  The ADA has a summary of the recommendations on the website.

 

What is PRINCE2 Project Management?

What is PRINCE2 Project Management?

What is PRINCE2?

Projects in Controlled Environments or PRINCE2 for short has become one of the most popular and widely used project management methodologies available today. Employed by both the public and private sectors, it has become the de-facto standard for project management in the UK.

Following the success in the UK, interest has spread across the globe. Countries in which PRINCE2 is becoming established include the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Spain, South Africa, Australia, and the United States.

What Does the 2 in PRINCE2 Refer To?

PRINCE2 has its roots as far back as 1975 in the PROMPTII methodology. PRINCE replaced PROMPTII in 1989, becoming the UK standard for all government information systems projects. In 1996, the methodology was re-launched as a generic project management methodology for all UK government projects, hence the 2.

Why Was PRINCE Introduced?

It’s true to say the public sector has hardly covered itself in glory with its ability to deliver projects on time, within budget, scope and to the right quality. PRINCE and later PRINCE2 were introduced to address the common causes of project failure.

How Does PRINCE2 Work?

PRINCE2 is a best practice framework that helps managers deliver projects on time and within budget. It divides projects into clearly defined stages with a start, middle and end. It focuses on the delivery of products rather than carrying out activities. Every project must have a business case, and plan that is periodically reviewed to check the project is still viable.

A PRINCE2 project has the following characteristics:

  • A defined lifecycle
  • Defined and measurable business products
  • A corresponding set of activities to achieve the business products
  • Specified amount of resources
  • An organisation structure, with defined responsibilities, to manage the project

How Does PRINCE2 Structure a Project?

Core to the methodology is the Project Board, made up of the customer, user representative and supplier. The project manager reports to this board through regular status reports. If there are problems on the project, the board decide how the project should proceed.

What Are the Benefits of PRINCE2?

PRINCE2 is about doing the right projects, at the right time, for the right reasons. It gives you standard systems, procedures and language for projects. PRINCE2 also provids:

  • Better control and use of resources
  • A means for managing risks and issues
  • Flexible decision points
  • Regular reviews of progress against the project plan and business case
  • Assurance that the project continues to have a business justification
  • Early visibility of possible problems
  • Good communications between the project team and other stakeholders
  • A mechanism for managing deviations from the project plan
  • A process for capturing lessons learned

Putting all of this together should enable you to save time and money while delivering projects more efficiently.

How Do I Become Accredited?

If you want to become a registered PRINCE2 practitioner, there are two exams to sit, the Foundation and Practitioner exams. Many accredited training organisations exist offering courses ranging from 2-day Foundation, 3-day Practitioner to 1-day refresher courses.

The Foundation exam is 75 multiple choice questions and lasts an hour. The Practitioner exam is eight questions and takes two-and-a-half-hours.

 

PMBOK vs PRINCE2 vs AGILE Project Management

PMBOK vs PRINCE2 vs AGILE Project Management

What are the pros and cons?

There are a range of different methodologies which are often applied to project management, with the three most commonly considered being PMBOK, PRINCE2 and Agile. If you’re trying to weigh up what are the pros and cons of PMBOK versus PRINCE2 versus something like Agile, you may find it useful to consider them in context with the project that you’re undertaking, as well as comparing one to the other.

To help you in assessing what are the pros and cons of PMBOK vs PRINCE2 vs Agile and which of these methodologies may work best in your individual situation, here is an overview of each of these systems for general project management best practice

PMBOK – pros and cons

PMBOK is short for Project Management Body of Knowledge. Users of this system find that it has more substantial frameworks for contract management, scope management and other aspects which are arguably less robust in PRINCE2. However, many users of PMBOK find that they are not entirely happy with the way this system limits decision making solely to project managers, making it difficult for handing over aspects of the management to other parties and senior managers. With PMBOK, the project manager can seemingly become the primary decision maker, planner, problem solver, human resource manager and so on.

PRINCE2 – pros and cons

PRINCE2 stands for Projects in a Controlled Environment and this is a project management program that shares more of the functional and financial authority with senior management, not just the project manager. This program has a focus on aiding the project manager to oversee projects on behalf of an organisation’s senior management. On the pros side, PRINCE2 provides a single standard approach to the management projects, which is why many government and global organisations prefer this option. It is also favoured because of its ease of use, which makes is easy to learn, even for those with limited experience. On the downside, there are users who feel that PRINCE2 misses the importance of “soft skills” that should be a focus for a project manager.

Agile – pros and cons

Agile is a more distinct program from PMBOK and PRINCE2. The Agile methodology is more flexible, making it better able to produce deliverables without the need for substantial changes and reworking. Tasks can be broken down into smaller stages and this allows for substantial risk reduction through earlier assessment, testing and analysis. The main drawback of Agile is that if it is not fully grasped, the methodology could lead to unattainable expectations.

If you’re interested in comparing PMBOK vs PRINCE2 vs Agile and you’re wondering about the pros and cons there are several answers. Each of these has it distinct differences. If you’re project needs to be small and adaptable, then Agile may be the answer. If the project manager needs to be the sole decision maker, then PMBOK could be preferable and so on. Each project manager will form different opinions and they may even change their mind on which is best based upon changes from one project to the next.

Alexandra Vlasov

Alexandra Vlasov

Alexandra Vlasov

 

I am professional Business Analyst with deep understanding of corporate environment and wide experience in financial, legal and manufacturing industries. Extensive experience across a wide range of business and IT projects covering areas such as systems development, business process re-engineering. Stepping aside from the usual solutions, I provide business stakeholders and clients with tailored and creative answers to new challenges. I have studied Law and Economics on a Post graduated level. I also hold MBA degree and more then 9 years of practical experience specialising in legal and financial businesses. I have a strong ability in managing contentions, risks and work priority to ensure delivery to deadlines.

I am an experienced, highly competent and innovative BA specialist. I am always motivated and put all my efforts towards the task given. I am able to work efficiently both in a team and individually.

Specific areas of focus:
• System analysis, design and implementation
• Business Process Analysis and Re-engineering, Change Management
• Technical & User Documentation
My motto is: “Never give up to study. Never give up to work on self development. Never give up! That’s my way to achieve the goals.”

My aim is to utilise my analytical skills and strong background in Business Management to help your business grow and become more successful and I am confident that my skills and experience will be a valuable asset in your business project.